Putting an end to Rheumatic Heart Disease


END RHD has endorsed a strategy to eliminate Rheumatic Heart Disease from Australia by 2031. Bupa supports END RHD as part of our vision for reconciliation to see health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) has been largely eliminated in the non-Indigenous Australian population for decades, but sadly, it is still a very real and present threat to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

It is a disease without a cure, but it is entirely preventable.

The Endgame Strategy, brings together experience, knowledge and evidence in a comprehensive long-term strategic plan to end RHD in Australia by 2031.

Bupa has been a proud END RHD Charter signatory since 2018 when we launched our updated Reconciliation Action Plan with a renewed focus on working towards health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

To demonstrate our commitment to ending RHD Bupa committed close to half a million dollars to support a community-led program in three high-risk remote communities in the Northern Territory aimed at developing culturally appropriate strategies to treat and prevent the disease. Community-based programs, such as this one, are identified as a priority action area in the Endgame Strategy.

World-leading RHD expert and senior author of the Endgame Strategy, Telethon Kids Director Professor Jonathan Carapetis AM, said the strategy’s release marked the first time a comprehensive evidence base had been developed showing how eliminating RHD across Australia could be done.

“With the release of this Endgame Strategy we now have the blueprint outlining exactly what needs to happen to both prevent new cases and improve the quality of life for those already living with the disease,” Professor Carapetis said.

“RHD is rare among non-Indigenous people, yet Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have some of the highest rates of the disease in the world. This is a disease that is usually only seen in developing countries and its persistence in Australia is an ongoing injustice,” he said.

Dr Zoe Wainer, Bupa’s Director of Clinical Governance praised END RHD’s work which will allow many in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to live longer and healthier lives.

“While this disease may not be a well-known one, it can have a lasting and devastating impact on many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. But most importantly, it is preventable.

Dr Zoe Wainer, Bupa Australia Head of Public Health
By working with communities to understand their lived experience and cultural context alongside evidence and data, the Endgame Strategy will save hundreds of millions of dollars on healthcare expenditure, and more importantly, save hundreds of lives and hopefully eliminate RHD.
Dr Zoe Wainer, Bupa Australia Head of Public Health